The Women's Bookshop owner Carole Beu also gets a well-deserved New Year's Honour.
But I’m prepared to put The Women’s Bookshop in that category. This iconic shop, founded and run for 30 years by Carole Beu, is a Ponsonby institution, par excellence.
In 1989, a young teacher called Carole Beu was persuaded to run a bookshop. She had done her OE, had taught in a variety of schools, including Auckland Girls Grammar under Charmaine Pountney and the radical, alternative state school, Metropolitan College, where she taught English and drama.
Carole loved teaching but finally she was coerced by Pat Rosier, the editor of Broadsheet Magazine, to take a space in Dominion Road and set up a bookshop. The rest is history - well not quite. A decade later, Carole saw a vacant retail space in Ponsonby Road, and in 1999 moved to Ponsonby with the voluntary help of many of her loyal customers.
Carole has loved the bookshop since day one.
Right from the start she has enjoyed promoting women’s writing and providing books which reflect women’s diverse lives and interests. She has lots of men customers too, including me.
The Women’s Bookshop has become a leading specialist in therapy and counselling books as well as the go-to-place for feminist writing and LGBTQ+ books.
Carole and her team host regular author events, provide a friendly space where women can meet, and have won Bookseller of the Year on several occasions.
Beyond her own shop, Carole has spent many years on industry committees which has clearly contributed to her receiving the New Year Honour. Her citation for ‘Member of the NZ Order of Merit’ says her award is for services to the literary industry. She was
a board member of Booksellers NZ for many years and a founding trustee of the Auckland Writers Festival, where she often chairs
Carole is particularly proud of her annual Ladies’ Litera-Tea afternoons - highlighting women’s words, wit and wisdom. Last year’s participants included Dame Fiona Kidman, local writers Kirsten Warner, Lizzie Marvelly and Michele A’Court. This year’s Litera-Tea will be held at Epsom Girls’ Grammar School on Sunday afternoon 3 November.
The team at the bookshop is also organising an exciting 30th Birthday Celebration on Monday 5 August. Appearing on the stage at the ASB Waterfront Theatre from 7.30pm will be a prestigious line-up of New Zealand women writers from the last 30 years, including Patricia Grace, Fiona Kidman and Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh.
Carole Beu has ridden the waves of feminism for three decades, ‘crossing the line since 1989’, as she puts it.
I attended a celebratory get-to-gether Carole hosted for friends and business associates. The consensus was unanimous - Carole richly deserved her honour.
The very proud Carole told Ponsonby News, “Books are my passion, my hobby and my work, and I get to meet wonderful women every day.”
We at Ponsonby News are proud of you, too, Carole, and we wish you a very happy and prosperous next 30 years. (JOHN ELLIOTT)
THE WOMEN'S BOOKSHop, 105 Ponsonby Road, T: 09-376 4399, www.womensbookshop.co.nz